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Having appeared in more than 200 films and widely considered to be one of cinema's most respected comic geniuses, Harold Lloyd was one of Hollywood's first true movie stars. Now, entertainment enthusiasts of all ages can enjoy the work of the man who inspired generations of acting greats with The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection.
Audio Commentary:Commentary by critic Leonard Maltin & director Rich Correll on Safety Last!
Other:*All feature films and shorts are full frame versions. **All content will have Spanish subtitles. Only the pictures with sound will have English subtitles and closed captions
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Harold Lloyd's place as the "third genius" of silent comedy (with Chaplin and Keaton) should be cemented by the release of his best work in splendid prints on DVD. The Harold Lloyd Collection, Vol. 1, a two-disc set, leads off with the most famous of Lloyd's pictures, the 1923 "thrill" comedy Safety Last. The bespectacled Mr. Lloyd found his spot in comedy by playing the persona seen here: an optimistic go-getter, energetic but not particularly remarkable, who perseveres as he moves up the ladder. In Safety Last, he really moves up: Harold is a department store clerk who concocts a publicity scheme for his store, which results in a climactic, hair-raising ascent up the outside of the building (at one point hanging from the hands of a huge clock). The ingenious shooting of the sequence--no rear projection of digital effects here--made audiences gasp at Lloyd's apparent peril. (His acrobatic stunts are all the more remarkable when you realize that Lloyd lost two fingers on his right hand in a 1919 publicity stunt involving a prop bomb).
There is at least one other masterpiece on Vol. 1, the wonderful Girl Shy (1924), in which Harold is a small-time tailor's apprentice who can't speak to women but nevertheless has penned a how-to book entitled The Secret of Making Love. A stream of terrific gags (look for how Lloyd employs a dog on a train) and a nice love story blend smoothly, and the movie has an extended chase sequence using car, horse, streetcar, motorcycle, and firetruck. There's also the 1923 Why Worry?, Lloyd's last feature with longtime producer Hal Roach, which suffers just a bit with its odd milieu (tropical island beset by revolutionaries) but has some hilariously weird routines built around compact Harold and the giant John Aasen (8 feet, 9 inches).
A trio of shorter films are included, including 1920's From Hand to Mouth, which puts Lloyd in a Chaplinesque down-and-out situation. A new nine-minute featurette, Harold's Hollywood: Then and Now, visits Hollywood location sites from Lloyd films. Indeed, one of the pleasures of watching Lloyd's films is his outdoorsy use of 1920s L.A. locations and outmoded vehicles such as streetcars. Two Paramount sound features are also here, the oddball Cat's Paw and the entertaining The Milky Way. The latter has Harold as a milkman who boxes his way to a title fight; the comedian's spirit jibes well with the breezy direction of Leo McCarey.
Lloyd was a canny businessman who kept control of his own films, which is one reason most of these prints look so good. His estate, and granddaughter Suzanne Lloyd, were closely involved in assembling these treasures. --Robert Horton
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